Guest Author: Leigh Russell – ‘From Crime Writer to Dystopian Novelist’ @LeighRussell

Chair CWA Debut Dagger Award Consultant | Royal Literary Fellow | OVER A MILLION BOOKS SOLD



It is my pleasure and privilege to ‘hand over’ my blog to Leigh Russell today.

With impeccable credentials Leigh Russell is a well known, successful and beloved writer of crime fiction. Yet her most recent book Rachel’s Story moves her into a different genre! So, why would she choose to change tack and write a dystopian novel? Let’s find out!


Quite a few people have asked me why I took a break from my established crime series to write a dystopian novel, as this is quite a significant departure from my usual creative output. The truth is, I don’t know why I ventured into a different genre. RACHEL’S STORY is set in a post-apocalyptic world where food is scarce, and the government use fear and deprivation to maintain absolute power over the people. As a child, Rachel is initiated into The Programme where selected young girls are medicated to make them fertile. Fearing for her future, Rachel escapes. But her freedom comes at a price, and Rachel must navigate through a terrifying landscape of persecution if she is to survive.

My crime series is ongoing, with the 15th title in the series EVIL IMPULSE published in January 2021, followed by DEEP COVER in July 2021, and a further four titles scheduled for publication over the next two years. The stories in my crime books generally start with the character of a killer whose motivation becomes the driving force of the story. Some of the stories begin with an idea, and this often arises from a ‘What if’ question. But I am not sure where the idea for RACHEL’S STORY came from. There are a number of possibilities.

We were in lockdown, and there was even more scaremongering in the media and on social media than usual. There was talk of a conspiracy among governments to create a so-called ‘climate of fear’ in order to make populations more biddable, as fear makes us more susceptible to control by authoritarian leaders. I am not a great fan of conspiracy theories as a rule, but living in lockdown made us all nervous. So perhaps Rachel’s Story came about as a result of an idea that was floating around in the zeitgeist, of a potentially omnipotent government ruling over a subservient population.

On the other hand, it’s always exciting to experience something new. Some people have the travel bug and like to visit  different places, for others it might be a recipe they haven’t tried before. With twenty-three crime novels published, and five more in the pipeline, perhaps it was the lure of trying something new that led me to write my first dystopian novel. The word ‘novel’ does mean ‘new’, after all, doesn’t it? In taking a short break from writing my crime novels, it was challenging to flex my writing muscles in a different way. 

Dystopian stories explore how survivors might cope in a precarious world. They examine changes to our way of life that could threaten not only our personal freedom but sometimes the survival of mankind altogether. Although on the face of it these concerns seem very different to those explored in a murder story, they are actually quite similar. Both dystopian fiction and crime fiction explore how we cope with the challenges we all face in life, most of all the certainty of death. While crime fiction deals with the death of individuals, dystopian fiction looks at individual grief and loss in the context of the deaths of many. So on reflection, writing crime and dystopian fiction are not really so very different after all.


Well thank you, Leigh, for taking over my blog and bringing such an insightful and fascinating piece to us. I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who are delighted to find out that there are still many more of your crime series on the way.

This new book will be an intriguing read for regular readers and, no doubt, will bring you many new readers who are lovers of dystopian fiction. Here’s to Rachel’s Story being a great success!

Well folks now comes all you need to know about Leigh, her book Rachel’s Story, her crime fiction books and most importantly where you can buy them.



In a world where food is scarce, the government rules and ordinary people only exist to serve, can there ever be happiness?

As a child, living in a post-apocalyptic world, Rachel is initiated into The Programme where selected young girls are medicated to make them fertile.

Fearing for her future, Rachel escapes. But freedom comes at a price, as she learns when she joins the outcasts struggling to survive beyond the city walls. 


Publisher for RACHEL’S STORY – Bloodhound Books (April 2021)

Publisher for GERALDINE STEEL series – No Exit Press

Buy: BHB | Hive | AmazonSmileUK | | your favourite bookshop


Leigh Russell has written twenty-four novels so far, and her Geraldine Steel crime series has sold over a million copies. In addition to her crime series featuring detective Geraldine Steel, Leigh has written two trilogies and two stand alone psychological thrillers. Rachel’s Story is her first dystopian novel. Leigh chairs the judging panel for the Crime Writers Association’s prestigious Debut Dagger Award, and is a Consultant Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund.

Leigh Russell’s website | On Twitter | Facebook


Geraldine Steel series

Cut Short | Road Closed | Dead End | Death Bed | Stop Dead | Fatal Act | Killer Plan | Murder Ring | Deadly Alibi | Class Murder | Death Rope |Rogue Killer | Deathly Affair | Deadly Revenge

Coming soon: Evil Impulse and Deep Cover

Ian Peterson trilogy

Cold Sacrifice | Race to Death | Blood Axe

Lucy Hall trilogy

Journey to Death | Girl in Danger | The Wrong Suspect

Stand-alone Psychological Thrillers

The Adulterer’s Wife | Suspicion


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